Petersburg Pilot -

Assembly votes down local matches for capital projects; approves allocation of surplus to Property Development fund

 


Assembly members unanimously voted against a resolution to dedicate local funds to capital improvement projects pending the allocation of State funds by the Alaska legislature. Assembly member Bob Lynn had proposed the resolution at the Nov. 25 meeting because he said projects with a local match are more likely to be funded by the legislature.

Rather than dedicating funds among the lengthy list of capital priorities, Assembly members said they wanted to see all monies put toward the number one capital project, the municipal building remodel.

“We picked the police building as the number one project. I think we should dedicate all the money we can get to that. If other money comes from different funding spots in the State for education or whatever that should go to that pool because it’ll have to,” Mayor Mark Jensen said.

The remodel is estimated to cost just over $10 million, more than twice the estimated cost of any other of the top priorities. Some $5 million has been secured from past State grants.

Assembly members continued to express concern that given the state’s fiscal climate local capital projects may not receive any monies from the State this year.

Related to the State’s fiscal condition, Assembly member John Havrilek has advocated in recent meetings for the Borough to start saving up in anticipation of covering their own expenses for capital projects, starting with the Municipal Building remodel.

The assembly moved in that direction by unanimously passing a resolution to transfer all of the General Fund surplus to the Property Development Fund. This puts nearly $1 million into the fund and potentially toward to the remodel project, pending State funding and Assembly approval.

In its original form, the resolution proposed transferring $475,365 – half the total surplus of $950,730 from fiscal year 2014 – to the Property Development Fund. This is in line with a recommendation in the budget policies resolution passed at the Nov. 3 Assembly meeting.

However, Havrilek proposed amending the resolution to appropriate the full amount of the surplus to the fund. The Assembly unanimously approved that amendment and the resolution.

Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht said that though it goes against the budget policies of the recently approved resolution, which recommends allocating half the surplus, he felt it was appropriate given this year’s financial situation.

“This is one of those issues that, I think, every year is going to be a different financial situation for the Borough and we would look to the Assembly to give us guidance on that. I don’t feel bad about you going over and above this year when financially we can do it,” Giesbrecht said.

While that money has not yet specifically been allocated to the municipal building remodel project, Giesbrecht and Havrilek expressed that it sends a strong message of support to the Police Department and the community.

“That was my intent of amending it, is to let people know that we’re serious about our priorities. This is a need and we’re putting our money where our mouth is. And I think that’s important to communicate to not only the police station...but especially for people in our community...To me this says ‘This is our priority,’” Havrilek said.

Giesbrecht and Finance Director Jody Tow also prepared a preliminary funding plan for the Municipal remodel project using Borough funds. The plan pooled monies from the General and Property Development funds as well as a loan from the Motor Pool. The addition of this year’s total surplus puts the Borough within reach of the remaining $5 million needed for the project should the State not allocate any funds to it.

The Assembly will wait to see what happens with State funding before proceeding with a local funding plan for the project.

 

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